November 1, 2017 |

At Your Service: Service Recovery

By Pizza Today

counter service pizzeria

Does your staff know how to right a wrong?

Paul Paz, Founder of Waiter’s World.

Pizza is an emotional experience! Mistakes happen, and how your crew responds with guests will determine their future patronage. Your team needs to know what to do when there’s a complaint.

First… listen before you respond. Let the guest explain/vent their issue (that process itself can deescalate the heightened emotional state for all). Use common soft skills for listening and acknowledge guests with verbal and body language that display empathy (nod your head in the “yes” motion). Use positive verbal comments such as, “I see what you’re saying”… “I understand.”

Next, apologize for the poor experience and repeat back what the guest just described (it affirms that you understand and empathize with their discomfort). Then explain the reason for the problem, but do not make excuses. Take ownership and responsibility for the service misstep.

Another crucial step is to deliver an urgent response that elevates the guests’ perception of how much you value their patronage. Fix it, replace it … maybe even toss in a little extra something as a demonstration of good faith.

Be careful that you don’t go down the slippery slope of assuming the guest is complaining just to get something for free. While that does happen on occasion, it is not the primary reason guests express their dissatisfaction. Usually they just want their basic expectations met.

Lastly, thank guests for bringing problems to your attention! Often guest complaints cast a light on an ongoing problem that no one was aware of that was damaging your brand reputation, creating inefficiencies or diminishing your product quality. All these eat into your bottom line! These are teachable moments for your crew. Seek customer service training
opportunities during each shift.

Not only is it important to respond to service errors, but how your staff communicates the service recovery process with guests will make or break effective damage repair. It is said that nonverbal communication dominates how people engage each other. Body language equals a thousand words. Tone of voice (in person and on the phone) speaks the truth. Rehearse and role play with employees’ common examples of how to engage guests when service mistakes happen (and they will happen).

Research training resources that are available to you. Here in Oregon, I am a Master Trainer for a program that is sponsored by the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association’s Education Foundation,  Travel Oregon and The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute. When you come across resources in your area, make use of them!

In the meantime, make it fun, make it easy, make some money!